Still dim numbers for water content

By Deb Murphy

While some Southern California weathermen optimistically look at current conditions as a glass half full, the truth is the glass isn’t even half full. Try less than 10 percent full.


Inyo County Water Department Director Bob Harrington delivered the latest numbers at Monday evening’s meeting of the Water Commission. The only optimistic piece of his Power Point presentation was from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s forecast for the next three months. Varying shades of green – indicating rainfall from slightly to significantly above average—undulated across Southern California, stopping short of the Owens Valley. “That means we have an equal chance of getting higher or lower than normal rainfall,” he said. “It’s a toss-up.”

The graph on the country’s seasonal drought outlook shows that the Eastern Sierra’s drought conditions remain but will improve. According to Harrington, that translates into “the drought is so severe it can’t get any worse.”

The latest numbers, following last Friday’s rain, puts the water content at Mammoth Pass at 2.4 inches, .9 above the previous storm but still at 5 percent of the April 1 average. The Pass is one of the lowest water content readings from the state Department of Water Resources. The highest in the Eastern Sierra watershed is at Cottonwood Lakes at 4.5-inches, 39 percent of the April 1 average.

The sign on the Big Pine Mobil station has it right. It reads “pray for snow.”

Harrington finished his report with discussion and review of the annual Bishop Cone Audit, a document and procedure that has been questioned at previous meetings. The audit set-up in 1940 by the Hillside Decree requires that the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power pump less groundwater than the surface water used within the Cone boundaries that incorporate the Bishop Creek drainage extending south to just above Klondike Lake. LADWP provides the data; Inyo County prepares the report.

The audit for 2012-13 follows a 17-year trend: LADWP extracts less water than is used for mitigation projects and lessees. Specifically: 25,243 acre-feet were delivered for approved uses while 16,188 acre-feet were extracted.

In its 2014 annual report, LADWP stated the numbers were inaccurate, that approximately 6,000 acre-feet of water went to stockwater and conveyance loss and, therefore, not included in the approved use column.

On the other hand, Bishop residents at Monday’s meeting felt the numbers were not accurate – period — or not adequately monitored. According to Harrington, the county checked the monitoring sites at the beginning of the Long Term Water Agreement, in 1991. A sampling of sites are inspected each year by the county, the sampling chosen by LADWP, a procedure set out in the water agreement and the Green Book.


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7 Responses to Still dim numbers for water content

  1. Badfinger December 18, 2014 at 9:30 pm #

    Oh, The Sky is Falling… The sky is Falling hahaha Lol ☺

  2. Ken Warner December 16, 2014 at 5:58 pm #

    Even if the East Side gets normal or even above normal rain and snow this year and next — it may not be enough.

    “It will take about 11 trillion gallons of water (42 cubic kilometers) — around 1.5 times the maximum volume of the largest U.S. reservoir — to recover from California’s continuing drought, according to a new analysis of NASA satellite data.”

    “The 2014 snowpack was one of the three lowest on record and the worst since 1977, when California’s population was half what it is now,” said Airborne Snow Observatory principal investigator Tom Painter of JPL. “Besides resulting in less snow water, the dramatic reduction in snow extent contributes to warming our climate by allowing the ground to absorb more sunlight. This reduces soil moisture, which makes it harder to get water from the snow into reservoirs once it does start snowing again.”

    • upthecreek December 16, 2014 at 9:37 pm #

      Meanwhile they continue to build houses at a record place in Taxifornia….

      • Desert Tortoise December 17, 2014 at 1:21 pm #

        The combined state and local (county, city, special district) tax burden as a percentage of income in California is less than 1% greater than the national average, and is usually around 15th or 16th of the 50 states year after year. In fact, one of the interesting things when you study state and local tax revenues across the US Is how close most states are to the mean. Some do not tax incomes, but they make it up with higher property taxes. We have a nominally high sales tax, but only apply that tax to the purchase of goods, with food being exempt, while other states tax labor, services, even rent (when I lived in Florida I had to pay sales taxes on rent and for labor to repair my car or motorcycles). California has a high top income tax rate, but doesn’t tax low incomes, and if you have owned a home for a while your property taxes have not risen with home values or inflation. If you have business property that is owed by more than two parties your property taxes might not have risen since 1978 (nice little line in Prop 13 says that when ownership changes, if no party has more than a 50% interest in the property there can be no reappraisal, written by an apartment building owner for apartment building owners). Overall, it all works out to the taxpayers of each state paying about the same amount of their income in taxes. The variations overall are small.

        • Charles O. Jones December 17, 2014 at 8:40 pm #

          Yon mean bumper sticker politics don’t tell the whole story?

      • Ken Warner December 17, 2014 at 3:47 pm #

        upthecreek: You’re not looking deep enough. People are breeding like rabbits. They have to live somewhere.

        • Desert Tortoise December 19, 2014 at 9:55 am #

          What galls me is that while existing home owners are being ground on to reduce water use in their homes we allow the construction of new homes. So, lets see, we don’t have enough water for existing users but we have enough for new ones? How the H does that work? It’s nonsense, we are being gamed. The other thing that chaps my backside is how more water efficient crops are being replaced by groves of thirsty nut trees in the San Joaquin Valley, and new groves of this thirsty crop are being planted in the desert (that is what the new agriculture is alongside 395 at Inyokern, pistachios). The aquifer there is already badly over drawn and yet look at all the new pistachio orchards going in. Why should residents of that valley listen to anyone telling them to “conserve”? The policy makers are not being honest with anyone and I have not seen one polly from either party challenge this. Gutlessness and dishonesty all around.


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